SAN FRANCISCO — Southern home cooking was created to be deeply satisfying and simple to make, and today's recipe, Country Spoon Bread, is a perfect example of this.
A spin-off of cornbread, spoon bread is really a cornmeal custard and, true to its name, is meant to be eaten with a spoon. It often is served as a side dish with pot roast, fish or roasted or Southern-fried chicken. In fact, spoon bread is so good it easily can be the main event for supper with the addition of cheese or tomato sauce, a spinach salad, or a sausage or two served on the side.
Also, in the spirit of the old South where nothing was ever wasted, any leftover spoon bread should be saved for another day. It reheats very well. Quickly pan-fry slices of it in a skillet coated with a little olive oil.
It is hard to ruin this splendid Southern recipe.
COUNTRY SPOON BREAD
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or milk (both work well, but I think the buttermilk adds a nice tartness)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease the bottom and sides of an 8-by-8-by-2-inch ovenproof-glass baking dish, or other 1 1/2-quart casserole.
Mixing the ingredients: Put the water and salt into a 2 1/2- or 3-quart saucepan; place over medium-high heat.
While the water is heating, crack the eggs into a bowl. Briskly beat them with a whisk until they are blended and yellow. Add the buttermilk and whisk until it is blended into the eggs. Set aside.
Finishing the batter: When the water begins to boil, slowly pour in the cornmeal, stirring briskly to get rid of lumps. Stir for a minute; the cornmeal should become smooth and blended. Remove from heat. Using the whisk, beat in the egg-buttermilk mixture. Be sure to mix everything together smoothly.
Turn the finished batter into the prepared baking dish, using a spatula to spread the batter evenly.
Baking the spoon bread: Put the baking dish into the oven. Set your timer for 25 minutes. This spoon bread takes 30 to 35 minutes in my oven, but always check what you are baking 10 or 15 minutes earlier than the recipe suggests. Oven temperatures aren't always exact.
Test the spoon bread by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, without wet bits of batter clinging to it, the spoon bread is done. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Reheating leftovers: Slice leftover spoon bread. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet. Use a spatula to place the slices in the skillet in a single layer. Fry until golden, turning once. Serves 4 to 6.
Per Serving: 140 calories, 7 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 143 mg cholesterol, 480 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.